User Context

Works with:

If your application serves different content depending on the user’s group or context (guest, editor, admin), you can cache that content per user context. Each user context (group) gets its own unique hash, which is then used to vary content on. The event listener responds to hash requests and sets the Vary header. This way, you can differentiate your content between user groups while not having to store caches for each individual user.


Please read the User Context chapter in the FOSHttpCache documentation before continuing.

How It Works

These five steps resemble the Overview in the FOSHttpCache documentation.

  1. A client requests /foo.
  2. The caching proxy receives the request and holds it. It first sends a hash request to the context hash route.
  3. The application receives the hash request. An event listener (UserContextListener) aborts the request immediately after the Symfony firewall was applied. The application calculates the hash (HashGenerator) and then sends a response with the hash in a custom header (X-User-Context-Hash by default).
  4. The caching proxy receives the hash response, copies the hash header to the client’s original request for /foo and restarts that request.
  5. If the response to /foo should differ per user context, the application sets a Vary: X-User-Context-Hash header. The appropriate user context dependent representation of /foo will then be returned to the client.


In other words we execute a preflight request here. A preflight request is a request that is sent prior to the real request. See for example how CORS requests work. The result of the preflight request is the X-User-Context-Hash header that is added to the real request.

This concept can be generalized to handle more than the user context scenario. The terminal42/header-replay-bundle builds on top of the FOSHttpCacheBundle to add support for more complicated use cases. Have a look at the HeaderReplayBundle documentation if the user context is not flexible enough for your needs.


First configure your caching proxy. Then configure Symfony for handling hash lookups. The minimal steps are described below, see the reference for more details.

You need to configure a route for the context hash. It does not specify any controller, as the request listener will abort the request right after the firewall has been applied, but the route definition must exist. Use the same path as you specified in the caching proxy and make sure that this path is allowed for anonymous users and covered by your firewall configuration:

# app/config/routing.yml
    path: /_fos_user_context_hash

If your access rules limit the whole site to logged in users, make sure to handle the user context URL like the login page:

# app/config/security.yml
    - { path: ^/login, roles: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
    - { path: ^/_fos_user_context_hash, roles: [IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY] }
    - { path: ^/, roles: ROLE_USER }

Finally, enable the listener with the default settings:

# app/config/config.yml
        enabled: true


When using the FOSRestBundle format_listener configuration on all paths of your site, the hash lookup will fail with “406 Not Acceptable - No matching accepted Response format could be determined”. To avoid this problem, you can add a rule to the format listener configuration:

- { path: '^/_fos_user_context_hash', stop: true }

Generating Hashes

When a context hash request is received, the HashGenerator is used to build the context information. The generator does so by calling on one or more context providers.

The bundle includes a simple role_provider that determines the hash from the user’s roles. To enable it:

# app/config/config.yml
        role_provider: true

Alternatively, you can create a custom context provider.

Caching Hash Responses

To improve User Context Caching performance, you should cache the hash responses. You can do so by configuring hash_cache_ttl.